InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Chronicles ❯ Fearless ( Chapter 32 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
`How could I have forgotten that I'd written . . . that?' Kagome railed at herself as she dragged the broom over the bathroom floor. She squatted down to sweep the dirt into the dustpan, deliberately trying to sidetrack her overzealous mind. It didn't work. With a soft moan, Kagome sank to the floor, leaning against the wooden cabinets for support. `I can't believe I forgot about that! Now he knows everything, and . . .'
`Would it . . . mean anything to you if I said I never meant to make you cry?'
But it did matter. Sure, she had told herself that he hadn't tried to upset her, that he hadn't realized how she felt at the time. Still, having him say as much was comforting—too comforting . . .
The small voice in the back of her mind whispered to her. `And maybe he feels the same way?'
She shook her head slowly. `If he felt the same way, wouldn't I know? I mean, everyone says he does. Sango and Miroku and even Shippou have told me this, but . . . it just isn't the same . . .'
Then to make all that worse, she'd run away. With a frown, she realized she had done the very thing that she always thought he did. When the questions became more personal, he always walked away. It was true, she supposed as she made a face. At least now she understood why he did it. It was easier to walk—or run—away than it was to stand and talk it out.
Over the nearly three years since she'd fallen into the well on her fifteenth birthday, she had grown a lot, matured in ways that had more to do with her mind than it did her body, but in some ways, she was very much still that same young girl who'd found the hanyou pinned to Goshinboku.
`You love him. You know you do. He's the one you rely on. He may not be a poet, and he may be clumsy talking about how he feels but you love him because of all that. Maybe in his own way . . . maybe he does tell you every single day, how he feels, and let's face it: if he had said that he loved you, that would have freaked you out worse, wouldn't it?'
True as that may be, the lingering doubt remained.
`How can you doubt him? He kissed you, for the love of heaven! You were there, baka!'
She scowled. She could discount the first kiss, in the cave when she'd practically thrown herself at him, but last night? He'd instigated that one . . . `He was in pain though . . . what if he hadn't realized what he was doing . . .?'
Kagome made a face and pushed herself to her feet again. He knew what he was doing. Pained, maybe, but he knew what he was doing . . .
Still, no matter what her brain told her, she couldn't quite bring herself to face him, not yet. Every time she so much as thought about her diary, she ended up blushing furiously at what he'd so obviously read. It wasn't that she didn't trust him with her diary. She trusted him, maybe more than she trusted herself. She just hadn't realized how embarrassed she would be, now that he had to know the truth of her feelings.
What if she was wrong? What if everyone had mistook InuYasha's actions toward her? What if he really didn't care about her like that? Sure, he had kissed her . . . but what did it mean? She knew what it meant to her, but to him? She sighed. The only person who could answer that was InuYasha, and she'd bite off her tongue before she asked him that.
Mrs. Higurashi bustled into the bathroom to put away some clean towels. She stopped short at the look on her daughter's face. Taking a moment to figure out the right thing to say before she spoke, Mrs. Higurashi slowly approached her. “Ah, Kagome . . . I just looked in on InuYasha. He seemed pretty lost in thought. For that matter, so do you.”
Kagome stared at her mother with a thoughtful frown. She opened her mouth to tell her mother then closed it with a slow shake of her head. “I think I might have screwed up, Mama,” she said in a tiny voice.
Mrs. Higurashi set the stack of towels aside and squeezed Kagome's shoulders. “We all feel like that, sometimes, dear. It's a part of life. The question is: can you fix it?”
“I hope so.” She stared at their reflections in the mirror and smiled slightly. “I . . . I got embarrassed and a little . . . scared . . . and I ran away,” she admitted.
Mrs. Higurashi laughed gently and squeezed Kagome's shoulders again. “It happens to the best of us, Kagome. I'm sure InuYasha will understand. He's got a good heart, even when he tries to hide it.”
She'd thought the same things before. InuYasha tried hard to hide it. Deep down, Kagome knew that he really wasn't as tough as he wanted everyone to think he was, and her mother saw it, too. Kagome's smile widened and she hugged her mother. “Thanks, Mama.”
“Any time, dear,” Mrs. Higurashi said as she kissed Kagome's forehead. “Maybe you ought to make sure his bandage doesn't need changed?”
Drawing a deep breath, Kagome headed out of the bathroom and toward the stairs.
He was lying on her bed, curled on his side facing away from her. She thought that he might be sleeping, and she turned to leave him alone. His soft moan stopped her. “InuYasha? Are you hurting again? I'll get you some Tylenol.”
“White pills?” he asked as he slowly turned over. “No.”
Something wasn't right, she decided as she stared at him. Sure his stomach might be bothering him. Normally though, he'd just act like it was nothing. He looked . . . nauseous? Grabbing the small trashcan beside her desk, she stepped closer to the bed.
“It was that ramen, wasn't it? I told you not to eat it,” she remarked as she sank down on the side of the bed and gently pushed his bangs out of his face.
“Sneaky wench . . . you don't have a compassionate bone in your body, you know that?”
She giggled at his pouting tone. “I have compassion . . . just none when you should have known better.”
He groaned as a little more color leeched out of his skin, and she relented. “Let me go get you something to settle your stomach, okay?”
“No pills,” she agreed. “And if you have to throw up, use the can, okay?”
Making a face at her sensibilities while he was so obviously suffering, InuYasha closed his eyes as she hurried from the room. `Not enough that my stomach already feels like hell . . . it really feels like it's being rolled over and over and over and over . . .'
“Here,” Kagome said as she hurried back into the room. She sat a bottle of water on the nightstand and grimaced as she opened a package of crackers. “Eat these and drink that.”
He managed to get his eyes open long enough to shoot Kagome an incredulous stare. “Are you fucking nuts? You really think I'm going to eat another damn thing?”
Kagome sighed and forced a cracker into his mouth. “Chew it,” she ordered. “It's not my fault you ate all that uber-broth with the ramen you weren't supposed to have.”
“Iff ivvnt onna elff,” he mumbled around the cracker just before he started to chew.
“It will, too, help,” she countered. “Eat a few crackers, and drink some water, and you'll be fine.”
He forced himself to swallow the cracker but jerked his head to the side when Kagome tried to shove another one into his mouth. “How do you know this will work?” he demanded.
To his surprise, Kagome flushed but smiled. “Mama used to buy bullion cubes—little blocks that dissolve in water to make chicken broth—and I liked them. I ate five of them once. Worst stomachache, ever, and this is what Mama gave me then.”
“Keh,” he replied but let her give him another cracker.
By the time the package of crackers was gone and the water bottle emptied, InuYasha had to admit—however grudgingly—that he did feel a lot better.
Kagome dropped the empty plastic wrapper into the trash can and set it back beside the desk. She sat back down and sighed. InuYasha sat up and patiently waited while she removed the bandage to survey the wound. “It's not healing very quickly,” she said with a concerned frown.
“Don't surprise me. Waku was trying to gut me, if you didn't notice. He didn't have any interest in making sure that the wounds were neat and tidy.”
She cleaned and redressed his stomach carefully. It didn't hurt nearly as bad as it had the night before. At least he could be grateful for that.
Kagome put away her first aid kit and wandered to her window to stare at the deepening shadows as evening fell. “I'm sorry I ran off earlier,” she said softly. “I was a little embarrassed . . .” She laughed softly and shook her head. “Okay, a lot embarrassed.”
He felt the pulse-beats engulf him, felt the transformation coming. Bracing himself for the unsettling changes in his body, it took him a minute before he could ask her, “Why?”
She glanced over at him then back at the window only to let her gaze flash right back to him again. “The new moon . . . I forgot . . .”
He waved his hand as though to shoo away her concern even as his human body weakened by the second. Normally not affected quite so drastically, he was pretty sure that the hole in his stomach had a lot to do with the waves of drowsiness that washed over him. “Why were you embarrassed?” he asked again, struggling to keep his eyes open.
She came to him, laying her cool palm against his forehead. Satisfied that he wasn't feverish, she sat down carefully and sighed. “I forgot I wrote all that, for one,” she admitted. “I was afraid, I guess . . .”
“Afraid? You're never afraid,” he mumbled as his eyes closed again. He had to say it, before he fell asleep. He wanted to say it. “You're . . . fearless . . . always fearless . . . more fearless than I could ever be . . .”
Her answer came from far away, and he wasn't sure if she really did say it or if it was part of a dream.
“Only when I'm with you . . .”
He smiled as he gave in to sleep.
“You failed me.”
“It wasn't my fault,” Waku rasped out, clutching the stump of his arm the miko's arrow had left behind.
“You underestimated her, didn't you? I told you, she must die first. If you destroy her, you'll destroy them all.”
Waku grimaced. “I nearly killed the hanyou. Who knows? He could still die from his wounds.”
Norimitsu leveled a cold glare at the hawk youkai. “Nearly killed him is not enough. Could still die is not enough. I want the sons of the Inu no Taisho dead—and I want the hanyou's bitch dead, too.”
“You sound frightened of this miko.”
Amber eyes narrowed dangerously on the hawk youkai. “It would be so easy to kill you, Waku . . . do not forget this.”
Waku shook his head slowly. “Then you'd have to do your own dirty work. Why the miko?”
Norimitsu squared his shoulders, staring into the moonless sky. “She is powerful . . . perhaps more powerful than the brothers of the Fang, and if you destroy her, you will bring down the hanyou, as well.”
Waku nodded, digesting the information in silence before answering. “It will be done.”
Norimitsu's eyebrows lifted in silent challenge. “And you are certain you can do this? Should you fail me again, Waku . . .”
“Why do you wish them dead?”
“I have my reasons,” he growled, his amber eyes flashing red fire before returning to their normal glacial stare. “Do not fail me again.”
Waku watched the old inu-youkai as he transformed into a red flash of light and disappeared into the night sky.
`I couldn't stop thinking about him. Every time I went into the forest, I caught myself looking for him. My father had accepted the offer of one of his vassals, and I was to be his wife. Takemaru was a fierce samurai known throughout Musashi as one of the greatest youkai hunters in all of Japan. Takemaru said he loved me. He did not know that I didn't possess a heart to offer him. I'd lost it that day in the forest to him—my protector, my guardian, my golden-eyed savior.
`I was promised to another yet I yearned for him. I looked for traces of him in the forest. I heard him sing to me in the quiet of my dreams. One night, I awoke, and there he was. Cradled in his arms, against his heart, we sat high in the boughs of Goshinboku, and he sang this song to me:
`The night wind whispers and makes you smile,
Don't fret, little one, I'll be here all the while,
Sleep, gently sleep, in my heart you belong,
Sleep, gently sleep, I'll protect you with this song . . .
`Child of my heart, child of heaven,
Sent to me and my soul was forgiven,
You give me peace and joy and love,
Sent to me from the stars high above . . .
`Old Goshinboku, the song of the God Tree,
Whispers in the night, you'll come to me,
Be safe in my heart, I'll protect you from ill,
The beautiful maiden, I bend to your will . . .'
Kagome blinked back bittersweet tears. `InuYasha's song,' she thought with a sad smile. `His mother sang it to him because it meant something to her . . . and he sang it to me . . .'
It struck her as ironic, the story of Goshinboku in the song, that InuYasha's father had taken his mother to sit in the tree, too. How often had InuYasha and she sat there, staring at the moon? In that tree, it never seemed like words were necessary. Something about it offered understanding without the need for spoken words.
Sitting on the floor with her back against her bed, Kagome turned and reached back to put her hand against InuYasha's forehead. Still sleeping peacefully, he didn't show any signs of fever or discomfort. She sighed. `How could I have forgotten that tonight was the new moon? Poor InuYasha . . . he was in pain as a hanyou, from his injuries. In his human form, it has to be so much worse . . .'
He didn't stir. She smiled as she rose up on her knees and leaned forward to kiss his cheek. “K'gome,” he mumbled but didn't wake.
With a deep, contented breath, Kagome sank back down and found her place in the old diary.
`He stared at me as though he was shocked that I had awakened. He asked me why I wasn't afraid. There was nothing to be afraid of. So long as he held me, I would fear nothing. I asked him why he had come to me. He said that he came every night, but his voice was tinged with a hint of sadness, of wistfulness that hurt me. He said that it was impossible, that it could never be. He told me again that mortals and youkai weren't meant to be together, and I knew this was true. Still the call of his soul to mine was too strong, transcending everything that was true and familiar. He spirited me through the forest back to the safety of the castle, and before he left me, he said he would be back again after the shadows fell, under cover of the gentle darkness.'
“K'gome?” Closing the diary and setting it aside, Kagome turned. InuYasha blinked sleepily, eyelids still heavy as he finally turned his gaze on her. She smiled when he yawned. “How long was I asleep?”
“A couple of hours,” she answered as she got up and checked his bandage. He hissed as the tape pulled against his flesh. “Sorry!”
He shook his head. “S'okay.”
She worked as quickly as she could, changing his bandage. With a wince, Kagome cleaned the wounds. `They look worse,' she fretted, `because he's human? Are they worse or is it just because I know he's not as physically strong in this form?' She tried to be gentle. By the time she was finished, she was near tears. He had tried not to make a sound but she knew how much it hurt him. “I'm so sorry,” she apologized as she put the first aid kit back on her desk.
“Keh. It's nothing,” he lied. “Didn't hurt at all.”
She sighed. “I know it does,” she said softly. “Are you thirsty? Do you need anything?”
He shook his head again. “Just . . . will you lay down with me? For a little while?”
Kagome stepped to the end of the bed to crawl up and stretch out beside him. He closed his eyes and his troubled frown faded as though her proximity was enough to comfort him. She reached out, gently brushing his bangs off his forehead as he rolled onto his side. Her heart welled in her chest, filling with a flood of emotion that threatened to overwhelm her. `Let me protect you, InuYasha . . . just for tonight.'
“Were you reading Mother's diary?”
She blinked in surprise. She thought he had gone back to sleep. “Yeah.”
He opened his eyes slowly, staring at her with those intense dark eyes that she didn't often see but that she knew just the same. “You'll tell me, right? If there's anything I need to know?”
“I wish you'd read it, too,” she said. “It was written for you.”
He sighed. “Someday . . . maybe.”
“What are you afraid of?”
He stared at her for long moments, reaching out slowly, touching her cheek with his human hand. Tracing her jaw, cradling her face, he shook his head slightly. “I don't know.” Swallowing hard, he let his hand fall away. She caught it in hers, held it tight. “Someone didn't want me to have that diary,” he remarked. “I'm not sure I want to know why.”
“That song you sang to me . . . your mother sang it to you?”
“Did you know, your father sang it to her?”
InuYasha's frown darkened. “I didn't know that. She never said. I just remember that when she sang it, she smiled . . .”
Kagome smiled vaguely. “She wrote that he used to come to her in the night and sing that song to her while she slept. He used to take her to sit in Goshinboku, and he sang that song to her.”
He absorbed that in silence. With a sigh and a quick squeeze of her hands, he finally spoke again. “They say when a youkai dies that part of its soul is kept alive and that it is absorbed by the living things without souls of their own. I wondered before, why it was that I always felt familiar with Goshinboku. Maybe . . . maybe that's where he is.”
Kagome let go of his hand and propped herself on her elbow, leaning forward to kiss his cheek. He turned his head, capturing her lips with his as his hand rose to hold her still. Warmth unfurled inside her, the spiral of emotion that ebbed and flowed as she reached out to hold him. As though it was the most natural thing, Kagome didn't question the reason behind his kiss. Hesitant yet demanding, his lips drew on her soul, taking a part of her into himself and yet giving her a part of him, too.
She touched his face, cradled his cheeks, ran her fingers over him as innocence gave way to emotion. He moaned softly against her as his fingers tangled in her hair. A current of desire shot through her as her lips opened to him. She gasped as he held her still, as he tasted her. The swirling tide, the wash of heat as emotion became a palpable thing was enough for the moment, enough for her.
He leaned over her, and she fell against the bed, surrendering to him before she ever thought to resist. She felt his body stiffen, vaguely realized it was the pain of his injury. He didn't stop kissing her, and she couldn't think long enough to worry about the wounds. Her hands dropped to his shoulders, and she clung to him, braced herself against him, riding out the waves of raw energy that radiated from him to her and back again.
He pulled back from her, stared at her with a fierceness in his gaze, a fire behind his eyes, a confusion that tore her soul. She leaned up once more, kissed him gently, tenderly before she looked at him again. This time, he smiled. Rubbing his cheek against hers, he shifted with a groan as his body protested more movement before he collapsed in her arms, his nose buried in the crook of her neck.
Careful not to disturb his wounds, she contented herself with smoothing back his hair, caressing his cheek with her fingers as he snuggled closer against her. His arms encircled her, locking her in the tight grasp of his embrace as she felt the tension ease out of him. He fell asleep like that, and just before she followed him, she smiled. He didn't make that rumbling sound in his human form . . . but he did snore.
Norimitsu: "rule, law”
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Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Chronicles): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.